Environmental technology was one of the economic development opportunities targeted by Gov. Angus King’s administration, and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection led a workgroup to devise a strategy to build the sector. That work ultimately led to the creation of the Environmental and Energy Technology Council of Maine, better known as E2Tech.
E2Tech was founded as a small, volunteer-driven organization representing Maine’s environmental and energy technology companies, nonprofits, educational institutions and government agencies, as well as businesses interested in becoming more sustainable. The work was to be done by periodic convenings to collect and develop ideas to boost the sector, and forums and panels on energy and environmental topics of the day, focusing especially on the more difficult and challenging issues.
The first forum was held in 2002, in the basement of the Portland Public Library, drawing about 30 people.
Since then, we’ve graduated from the basement, and held more than 250 forums, tours, networking events and panels on many topics, including electric grid modernization, PFAS, aquaculture, electric vehicles, solar, building energy efficiency, nuclear energy and many other fields. If it’s a potential lever for business growth that hinges on clean environmental and energy technology, E2Tech has likely put together a panel to discuss it, usually while consuming gallons of coffee.
Along the way, membership has grown steadily. E2Tech now has more than 325 member companies comprising about 5,000 individual members. This group includes energy and environmental engineers, consultants and scientists, together with attorneys, architects, bankers, MBAs, salespeople, activists, educators and regulators, all joining together to advance Maine’s clean-tech economy.
Forum topics are developed by the all-volunteer Program Committee, which any council member can join. This leads to balanced discussion, and is our way of keeping the pulse of the marketplace, as well as to learn what roadblocks to Maine’s economic growth in the energy and environmental sector exist and need to be addressed.
Every energy growth option, every development and each environmental approach, no matter how carefully considered, will inevitably have at least some negative impact. E2Tech members look to share information and ideas to minimize that environmental cost by asking: Do the benefits outweigh the risks?
By our charter, E2Tech does not lobby or advocate. However, we’ve held numerous U.S. Senate and gubernatorial debates, helping focus the candidates on energy and environmental topics. That includes a memorable debate in 2006, in which security had to be called because one participant literally brought his own megaphone.
Membership and events are always free for students, state employees and public officials. We’re proud of that – it helps get the right decision makers in the room, and supports the next generation of environmental leaders.
In sum, energy, environment and economy: We are about all three. And you can add three Cs if you want – climate, clean energy and coffee.
Here’s to 20 more years of convening Maine’s energy and environmental engineers, consultants and policymakers, to help grow Maine’s clean-tech economy and keep our state at the leading edge nationally. Distilling jet fuel from wood chips, vacuuming carbon from the atmosphere, storing excess solar energy for a month and removing PFAS from contaminated soil are just a few examples of the environmental and energy challenges E2Tech members are working on. Believe it: These inventions can come from Maine. We have the scientists and engineers, the professors and policymakers, to solve these issues and many more – with connections fostered and forged by E2Tech.
E2Tech will celebrate its 20th anniversary Wednesday with a solar-powered event at 4:30 p.m. at Maine Beer Co. in Freeport.